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  • Tuesday, August 31, 1999

    Shrinking Salt Lake Olympic budget gets smaller

    By PAUL FOY -- Associated Press
     SALT LAKE CITY -- Olympic organizers earmarked another $14 million in budget cuts Tuesday for the scandal-heavy, sponsor-light 2002 Winter Games.
     Inflation and interest adjustments accounted for most of the savings but a finance committee for the Salt Lake Organizing Committee also cut transportation for the media and "Olympic family" by $3.5 million.
     Nobody's going to have to walk, said SLOC managers who figured fewer buses than originally budgeted will be needed to move athletes, team officials and the media. International Olympic Committee members will still get drivers and GM sport-utility vehicles.
     "The good news is our numbers are going down, not up -- unlike most government projects," said Mitt Romney, president of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee.
     Romney and his chief operating officer, Fraser Bullock, have recommended reducing a $1.453 billion budget to $1.33 billion, for a savings of $123 million.
     The smaller budget is expected to be adopted by the SLOC board Sept. 9.
     One cutback the SLOC won't be able to get away with is the $59 million it owes Utah taxpayers for building Olympic facilities, said Ken Bullock, a SLOC trustee and executive director of the Utah League of Cities and Towns.
     Bullock complained that Romney has been unwilling to guarantee the payment.
     Romney said Tuesday the SLOC "intends to pay all of its obligations" -- if it can raise at least $179 million more from corporate sponsors.
     The new SLOC regime has been struggling to raise money and contain expenses since a bribery scandal broke in December, triggering an investigation by the U.S. Justice Department.
     The probe's first criminal charge came Aug. 3 when Salt Lake businessman David E. Simmons admitted he hired the son of a powerful IOC official for a no-show job, then illegally wrote off the salary as a business expense.
     Salt Lake organizers trying to lower expectations are targeting frills and glitz usually associated with Olympic Games. Fewer banners will dress up Salt Lake City. Spectators will have to do without information booths. Athletes will find less entertainment and concerts at the Olympic Village.
     IOC officials won't receive a subsidy for pricey hotel rooms and will have to get around venues on fewer golf carts. The SLOC plans to replace glossy color publications with fewer, black-and-white publications.
     The cutbacks range far and wide, but staffing and inflation contingencies rank as the biggest targets.
     "We found we could delay the hiring of staff by six months in many cases, saving tens of millions of dollars," Romney said.
     The SLOC expects to employ 750 by games time, but delaying the hiring of many will save $30 million.
     The committee also plans to chop $48 million from what Romney said were overstated inflationary projections. Many Olympic expenses, he said, are fixed by contract.
     Many of the cuts are on a menu of possible spending restorations if enough money is raised. But the SLOC needs to raise $179 million from corporate sponsors just to balance its smaller budget.
     The SLOC has attracted just one sponsor and four suppliers in the past eight months. But Romney has set an ambitious goal: winning a new sponsor or supplier -- and a $10 million commitment -- during each of the next 18 months.





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